Join our zoo community

ZooChat Cup - rebooted

Discussion in 'ZooChat Cup' started by CGSwans, 28 Jul 2019.

  1. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,711
    Location:
    Melbourne
    I think you’re both partly right. I’m going to do a pretty big shake-up of how this final group stage will be conducted, before it’s too late to reverse course. It’s annoying and inelegant, but I think it will be better.

    Bear with me, this is a long post but I want to be as transparent as possible about how I’m approaching this. There will be a TL: DR summary at the end.

    I originally chose to go with biomes for a few reasons. I wanted to keep the game fresh, rather than endlessly repeating the same basic discussions. I wanted to challenge people to come up with new perspectives. And without ever quite explaining it thus, I quietly echoed what I think are the three basic organising structures zoos tend to choose from when developing a master plan: taxonomic arrangements (out of fashion, perhaps, but still interesting), geographic and biomes.

    I really like the biome concept and I intend to keep it, for all the above reasons. At the same time, Thylo has correctly identified a problem with the existing structure that I don’t think has *quite* yet been realised, as Anton argues, but which soon will be. I don’t want what I think has so far been a successful Cup to end on a dull note with a series of lopsided, narrowly-focused contests. And looking ahead at the schedule, I think that’s what would happen.

    The biome categories don’t really suit the roster of zoos that we have in our final eight. I should have considered this more carefully. When I mapped out the eight-zoo, seven biomes structure I tested it with a couple of hypothetical groups of eight zoos, but I’m obviously a poor predictor of outcomes and the roster we have is particularly light on for zoos with strong marine, desert and montane/polar collections, particularly. At the same time, as Thylo says, grasslands and the two forest categories are fairly robust.

    So here’s step one in my restructure plan. We will collapse the existing seven categories into four:
    • Tropical forests remains as it is.
    • ‘Temperate Forests’ gains the ‘mountains’ component of the ‘mountains and poles’ category. I am open for suggestions for a pithy name for this one. This new category will inherit the draw that previously applied to ‘temperate forests’.
    • ‘Grasslands’ becomes ‘grasslands and deserts’. Again, if you have a better name hit me up. Otherwise it will do. This category inherits the former ‘grasslands’ draw.
    • Freshwater is merged with marine and the ‘poles’ component of the former mountain and poles category. This category will be known as Aquatics, and it will inherit the former freshwater draw.
    When I say that a category ‘inherits a draw’ what I mean is that a match that was previously slated to be held on ‘freshwater’ will instead take place on Aquatics. That raises the question of what to do about the Zurich-Chester and Omaha-Vienna matches that have already been held or are underway. I’ll return to that below.

    These four categories work well together, I feel. No zoo is overwhelmingly strong in all of them, but all are good in at least two or three. Across the four of them they will catch the vast majority of species, exhibits and themes that exist in the eight surviving zoos.

    That leaves the problem of having seven matches per zoo, and only four categories. I do not want to have a zoo playing twice on the same category, and so my solution for the 12 matches that were to be played on one of Deserts, Marine or Mountains and Poles is that we will partially return to taxonomic and geographic categories. Each zoo will still play once on all four biome categories, and then they will have three matches on taxonomic or geographic categories.

    It took a little bit of work with a pen and pencil, but I have identified a set of match-ups that meets the following criteria I wanted to achieve:
    • No zoo will draw a category that it has previously competed in during the first or second rounds. This criteria was why I didn’t simply do another random draw: two of the 12 matches literally only had one possible category without repeats, and so I had to start with those two and work outwards.
    • No recycled category will be used more than twice. As an aside, this was actually trickier than it sounds, because I was interested to discover that drawing certain categories proved much less predictive of whether a zoo would reach the final round than others.
    • There is no material impact on what I will call the ‘expected wins’, compared to what I estimate might have happened if we used the now-discarded biomes instead. In other words, I don’t believe any zoo gains or loses as a result of this retrospective change. Obviously it’s possible that my predictions on how those biomes would play out are wrong, but this is unknown and unknowable. I can honestly say, with a clear conscience, that I don’t think making this change has altered the prospects of any competing zoo.
    I won’t lie, this is a messier solution than I would like, but I think it has some compensating benefits too. The winning zoo will ultimately have been tested on 13 out of 15 categories across the three themes: there really isn’t much chance for zoos to hide their flaws or to miss out on flaunting their strengths. Zoos that had to overcome weaknesses to get this far will benefit now, whereas those that rode their luck here will have their work cut out for them.

    One final piece of the puzzle is the afore-mentioned matches that have been held on now-rejected categories. I don’t think it’s fair for Zurich and Chester to have competed on only half of the aquatics category, or for Vienna and Omaha to have done the same for ‘temperates’.

    As such, here’s the messiest bit of all: these two matches will be reopened. I will post new polls and a moderator will merge the new and existing threads. If people vote in the new poll, that vote supersedes the previous one, otherwise the existing vote will count. The third match, in which Bronx faced Wroclaw on tropical forests, is unaffected and will not be extended.

    So, to summarise:
    • Seven biome categories will become four: tropical forests, temperates, grasslands&deserts and aquatics
    • The remaining slots will use taxonomic or geographic categories that the respective zoos have not previously drawn.
    • Two matches, between Omaha and Vienna, and Zurich and Chester, will be extended to account for the changed terms of reference.
     
  2. ThylacineAlive

    ThylacineAlive Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20 Oct 2012
    Posts:
    8,459
    Location:
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    Sounds like an excellent fix to me :) Thank you for taking the time to address the issues become they became too permanent!

    ~Thylo
     
    CGSwans and pipaluk like this.
  3. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,711
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Thanks. I’ve always done my best throughout this project to be responsive to feedback and consider when to change course.

    As implied above, I was already having nagging doubts, but a push to create a timely solution is no bad thing.
     
  4. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,711
    Location:
    Melbourne
    FYI - no match tonight - I want to untangle a scheduling knot and skipping a night is the best way to do it. :)
     
    TeaLovingDave and amur leopard like this.
  5. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2010
    Posts:
    12,120
    Location:
    Wilds of Northumberland
    Any particular reason for the delay in new rounds over the last few days? Hope all is well! :)
     
  6. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,711
    Location:
    Melbourne
    All is well. I was waiting for each zoo to have three completed matches before doing a small round-up post. That'll be up either tonight or tomorrow, and then we'll kick off again.
     
    TeaLovingDave likes this.
  7. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,711
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Alright. Let’s just briefly bring ourselves up to date and then we’ll get back into it. Three rounds in, four to go, and here’s the state of play:

    Zurich - 3-0, 64.8
    Vienna - 2-1, 58.1
    Omaha - 2-1, 55.1
    Bronx - 2-1, 50.7
    Chester - 1-2, 50.2
    Plzen - 1-2, 43.50
    Beauval - 1-2, 39.1
    Wroclaw - 0-3, 38.5


    Let’s get the awkwardness out of the way first. Wroclaw, I’m sorry. This brings me no pleasure but yes, you *are* going to have to turn up and keep going through the motions for another four matches. The Polish zoo still has chances to make a respectable showing, with matches on Temperates and Aquatics to come, but I think it’s safe to say Wroclaw is not our champion-to-be.

    Beauval and Plzen aren’t in *much* greater shape, with their scoring percentage both well below 50 and just one win from their first three. They need to win all their remaining matches, one suspects, and to have a couple of blowouts along the way. Possible? Sure. Likely? Hmm.

    But I’d much rather be Plzen than Beauval. The latter’s situation is dire, with arguably its better two biome categories gone as well as having lost on birds, which might just have been the best taxonomic or geographic category it had left. By contrast, Plzen has Temperates up its sleeve, as well as some handy taxonomic throwbacks in the form of birds and ectotherms.

    Chester also sits on 1-2. The narrow five point loss it suffered to Beauval on Grasslands and Deserts might be one of the most decisive matches of the entire Cup, because it likely needs to sweep the remaining four matches now. Given that those four matches are against Bronx, Omaha, Plzen and Wroclaw (which, as mentioned, has a point to prove and some handy categories to prove it with), it’s going to be tough.

    Which brings me to the top four. Bronx has only had one bad outing for the entire Cup, against Omaha a few days ago: it helps to have an aquarium if you want to compete on Aquatics. That loss leaves it barely above water in percentage terms, at 50.7, but the positive 2-1 win-loss record matters more. Unlike Chester or Plzen, Bronx can still afford to stuff something up. Probably only once though, and a big win or two would certainly help.

    Having lost poor Burgers long ago, Omaha is the zoo that most clearly benefits from the biome format. It copped a pasting from Vienna on Temperates, but then took full advantage of the afore-mentioned Scott Aquarium to rebuild its percentage against Bronx. Now it has matches to come against Beauval, Chester, Wroclaw and Zurich. It *will* draw tropical forests against one of them, but it can’t be Zurich or Beauval. It *will* draw grasslands and deserts, but not against Beauval or Chester. That’s a pretty nice spot to be sitting in when you have an enormous tropical house and the world’s biggest desert dome.

    I would *not* have picked Vienna as a potential Cup winner pre-tournament. But here we are: there’s four rounds to go and Vienna sits in second, with a healthy percentage to go with a 2-1 record. I don’t know that I’d *quite* say it’s second-favourite, if only because it doesn’t have compelling cases to make on its remaining biome categories (Aquatics and Grasslands and Deserts), so it probably needs to do well on the two taxonomic/geographic ones. The four possibilities are Australia/Islands, ectotherms, carnivores and miscellaneous mammals. It could be worse.

    And finally Zurich. Undefeated after three rounds. A percentage that works out to almost two points out of every three. At face value it’s the runaway favourite... but appearances can be deceiving. Tropical forests is done, and so is Australia & Islands: Masoala has taken Zurich as far as it can. The remaining biomes - Grasslands and Deserts and Temperates - are weaknesses, not strengths. It dodged a couple of land mines as it raced through the first two group stages, and got away with stepping on one - primates - with a lucky draw against Wroclaw. Can it keep getting that lucky, with Bronx, Omaha, Plzen and Vienna to come?

    We’ll see.
     
  8. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    1 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    6,344
    Location:
    Abbotsford, B.C., Canada
    One thing this ZooChat Cup certainly hasn't lacked is unpredictability. San Diego - gone. Singapore - gone. Taronga - gone. Pairi Daiza - gone. Berlin x 2 - gone.

    Then when things look as if they are beginning to solidify, Zurich goes and loses two in a row, Omaha loses two in a row and Wroclaw wins two in a row. I have no idea which zoo will emerge as champion and that makes the competition exciting.

    I'd love to see an update once all of the zoos have played 5 matches in this final round. We'll see how tight things stand once the dust has cleared...
     
  9. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Feb 2019
    Posts:
    2,054
    Location:
    London
    Just in case you are interested here is how it stands right now:

    Vienna 3-1 - 57.7%
    Zurich 3-2 - 54.1%
    Chester 2-2 - 51.3%
    Omaha 2-3 - 51.1%
    Wroclaw 2-2 - 50.8%
    Bronx 2-1 - 49.1%
    Beauval 2-3 - 43.1%
    Plzen 1-3 - 43.0%

    (arranged by percentages instead of by win/loss ratio because some zoos have yet to play matches to make it 5 apiece).
     
  10. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2010
    Posts:
    12,120
    Location:
    Wilds of Northumberland
    I believe you've worked out the average percentages slightly incorrectly for several of the collections - and of course, including matches which are in-progress and in one case only started 12 hours ago does skew things even more. Probably prudent not to post the exact percentages to reduce the risk of tactical voting in the open matches and the ones coming up next, too :p so maybe it's for the best that you made an error or two!
     
    amur leopard and nczoofan like this.
  11. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,711
    Location:
    Melbourne
    There’ll be an update after five completed rounds, yes. Try not to share the standings in the meantime. :)
     
    amur leopard likes this.
  12. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2010
    Posts:
    12,120
    Location:
    Wilds of Northumberland
    And possibly a bigger loss than any of these barring (arguably) San Diego and Zoo Berlin - Prague gone. Personally, I'd rank it above *any* of the 8 finalists :p even Chester.
     
    ThylacineAlive likes this.
  13. ThylacineAlive

    ThylacineAlive Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20 Oct 2012
    Posts:
    8,459
    Location:
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    Bronx, Chester, Omaha, and Prague are all in my top 5 zoos but I'm not sure which ones I'd put above the others. I do agree that Prague is well above Wroclaw and Plzen as far as zoos I've visited go. Personally, I'd place the zoo above even San Diego and possible Zoo Berlin as well!

    ~Thylo
     
    TeaLovingDave likes this.
  14. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,711
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Sorry folks - it’s been a busy couple of days. Hoping to resume tomorrow.
     
  15. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2010
    Posts:
    12,120
    Location:
    Wilds of Northumberland
    Gives everyone's heart rates a chance to recover after the nailbiting finale to the last match :p
     
  16. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,711
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Alrighty then. I’ve been too time-poor to do the full write-up I intended at this point, but I don’t want to keep you waiting longer so we’ll keep this short(ish).

    Vienna - 3-1-1, 57.26
    Bronx - 3-1-1, 53.14
    Zurich - 3-2, 53.73
    Plzen - 2-3, 52.19
    Omaha - 2-3, 49.05
    Wroclaw - 2-3, 48.92
    Chester - 2-3, 44.65
    Beauval - 2-3, 41.47


    I’ll jump in before any maths nerds: yes, I know, the above percentages add up to 400.41. I just double and then triple checked the numbers for all 20 completed matches as well as the aggregates. It appears to be just an extreme collection of rounding errors. If it looks like being a problem I’ll go back and do it to three decimal places. Urgh.

    Anyway. The substantive point here is that it’s both tight at the top and tight at the bottom of the table, with a small yet significant gap in between. There’s no fewer than five zoos with a 2-3 record. In theory, I think any of them *could* win, though in practice I think most are out of contention.

    Beauval might be the great ‘maybe’ zoo of this Cup. Had the finals been a month later the new Dome, which has already attracted quite a bit of speculative commentary in this competition, would actually be fair game. Not enough to have beaten Zurich on the tropical forests category, one suspects, but enough to keep the margin respectable. Then you give the ‘birds’ category to some zoo other than Bronx or Plzen, and the 2-3 record might be 3-2, with a competitive percentage. Wishing doesn’t make it so, though, and Beauval sits last for now.

    Chester cruised through the first two rounds but has never really achieved consistent finals form. Two decent wins over Omaha and Vienna could have provided a foundation, but a close (and, to my mind very unlucky) loss to Beauval on Grasslands and Deserts hurt. A landslide defeat to Plzen on Temperates seals the English zoo’s fate, but that’s probably for the best. England’s already won one World Cup too many in the past year for my liking.

    I kicked off my last round-up post commiserating with Wroclaw, which at that time sat winless and friendless at the bottom of the table. Polish pride has since been restored, with a comfortable win over Omaha (carnivores) and a thumping one over Beauval (Temperates) vaulting Wroclaw up to sixth, with a percentage nudging 50. It would need just about everything to go right, but I have to admit my initial assessment was just a bit premature.

    Omaha sits in fifth, with a once promising campaign fading into disappointment. I suspect the biome categories favour Omaha, overall, but even Lied Jungle wasn’t enough to win tropical forests against Chester. There’s one biome category to come in which Omaha would back itself against almost all comers (Grasslands and Deserts), but it needs two big wins from here, not one, and for other results to go its way too.

    Chester’s big loss is Plzen’s big gain. The massive 75-12 margin in their match rocketed the Czech underdog’s average score to a very healthy 52.19%, well above the other 2-3 zoos. As importantly, though, Plzen’s remaining matches come against zoos above it on the table, Zurich and Bronx. Win them both and it’ll be tied with Zurich on four wins. From that point it needs Bronx to lose to Chester and for Vienna to lose its two matches. Unlikely, sure, but Plzen at least has more say in its own fate than any of the zoos behind it.

    Did you hear the thud? That was Zurich coming back down to earth, as I foreshadowed might happen in my last update. The Swiss zoo has lost two matches and a massive 11 percentage points since then, and it needs to reverse course fast. The trouble is that one of the two remaining matches is on Grasslands and Deserts, and Pewa is not yet built. It can be done, but Zurich needs a lot to go right.

    Bronx and Vienna. How’s the heart? It only took 92 matches to bring up our first tied result, and it only took until the last few minutes of the match to square it up. The split decision on Grasslands and Deserts means only percentage splits the two Cup front-runners. A single decision by *anybody* - whether somebody who did vote in the tied match voting differently, or somebody who sat it out choosing to vote, would have put one zoo a match clear of its rivals with only two games left to play. The entire Cup could end up hanging on the decision you did, or didn’t, make in that match. No pressure.

    I’m going to continue starting one match per day for the moment, but after the next four I’ll pause again and see where we are at when each zoo has one left to play. Any match that can help determine a winner will then be held at the same time.

    We’re getting very near the end.
     
  17. lintworm

    lintworm Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    27 Oct 2008
    Posts:
    4,488
    Location:
    Europe
    This will be interesting, a lot will depend on the Vienna vs. Beauval match and the categories Bronx gets, for now Bronx seems to be the slight favourite to me.

    I am still curious what Burgers' would have done, they would have beaten all zoos that are in the final in the rainforests, grasslands & deserts and aquatics category, mostly by a large margin but would would have lost the temperates category against any of them as well by a pretty large margin.
     
    Haasje and amur leopard like this.
  18. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,711
    Location:
    Melbourne
    I’m not going to post the ladder here tonight but we are down to three potential Cup winners: Bronx, Vienna and Zurich.

    As mentioned in the Bronx-Chester thread, I made an error when sequencing matches which means that Chester has now played seven matches and finished its campaign, very likely in last place among the finalists. The UK standard-bearer suffered a run of bad luck in the last phase of the tournament but it had its moments along the way, beating Omaha and Vienna twice, Berlin Zoo and winning what I view as the greatest Cup match of all time against Prague.

    Chester having played seven means Vienna has only played five, with matches against Beauval and Wroclaw to come. Normally, I’d run one of those two matches now and then have the final games featuring Bronx, Vienna and Zurich all run simultaneously.

    Time has become critical, though. I have something else beginning very soon that I need to focus more of my energy on, and so I need the Cup to finish up. I also like the thought of having our deciding round of matches on a weekend, when many of us will have the fullest opportunity to participate. I’ve given this some thought and I’m satisfied that it doesn’t favour any one zoo over another, so... I’m going to run all four remaining matches, including both Vienna matches, at the same time.

    You all ready to finish this?
     
    Last edited: 14 Feb 2020
  19. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    10 Feb 2012
    Posts:
    3,098
    Location:
    England
    Vienna has played Omaha, I think it has Wroclaw & Beauval to go?

    Zurich has Omaha
     
    amur leopard likes this.
  20. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,711
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Correct. My apologies.
     
    pipaluk likes this.